I took the bus to Malaga today, fully intent on taking a ride on the Cercania 2 metro line, to Alora, up the Guadalhorce valley past Cartama. As I waited at the nearest stop, first a MAPFRE branded maintenance van parked on the zig zag yellow lined exclusion zone for all but buses. No sooner than this went away an armoured cash in transit van occupied the same space, and two security personnel took several bags of money, into the Santander premises twenty metres away. It remained until five minutes after the bus arrived.
The bus had to park at an angle in the remainder of the space, and this was fine for the two dozen passengers getting on, except one. A woman with crutches and a small mobility scooter, of a size that could be taken on the bus if it had not been parked away from the kerb. The driver was patient and understanding. She honked the horn and only after several minutes more did the cash men emerge and depart, so that the bus could reposition itself for the lady to get on. Nobody on board seemed bothered by the delay. Kindness prevails thankfully.
Incidents like this can be an everyday occurrence wherever wheel chairs and mobility scooters are used. Urban bus stops are planned with access for disabled people in mind. It simply isn't fair that gun toting civilians with bags of cash, in armoured vans are not required to think twice before obstructing a stop. There is no reason why everyday secure route planning for deliveries shouldn't take this into account, rather than disrupt other people's travel, and make it difficult for a disabled traveller to be accommodated without causing needless embarrassment. No cash truck should ever be allowed to presume the privileges that all would naturally accord to an emergency services vehicle. But money influences how everyone behaves one way or another.
I went from the last bus stop in town to Maria Zambrano station, checked the Cercania timetable and realised I had forty minutes to wait. I walked over to the Larios shopping centre. It's huge and on three storeys with every posh designer brand imaginable selling their wares. I saw a demonstrator at a stall carefully flying a toy sized drone quadrocopter, making an effort to do so safely at a junction of the thoroughfare. Concentration immobilised her face in a stare. Her movements, such as they were, made her look robotic, drained of natural liveliness. Why are we doing these things to ourselves? I wondered.
The shopping centre is so big that I became disoriented and exited on the opposite side of the building. Then I had lost sight of the railway station, and by the time I had discovered where I was, there was not enough time to catch the train. Ah well, another couple of hours on foot in Malaga finding new places would do instead.
I walked back to the old town's Atarazanas market, busy with stall holders and others chatting animatedly, eating and drinking after the majority had ceased trading for the day. A marvellous buzz of conviviality around the bars and eateries open. I settled for a tuna and tomato empanadilla from a stall I've bought from before. Delicious.
From there, I wove me way through a collection of narrow streets with shops at the base of five storey buildings in a rich mix of decorative styles. I discovered a Parish Church dedicated to St John Baptist dating from the 1487 reconquista of Malaga, but rebuilt after the 17th century earthquake. It has a tall brick tower, and it's such a surprise to round a street corner and see a few hundred yards away down a winding narrow street this tall edifice illuminated by the afternoon sun.
A curious feature of this church is to be seen on the west wall of the church adjacent to the porch. Five differently coloured hemispheres, each about the size of a cannon ball arranged in a cruciform pattern. No single explanation for this has gained currency, but the symbol is found in Aztec and in far Eastern cultures. There's an interesting article about it here.
A few blocks away, I found another large brick built church in a narrow street. A walk around the block revealed this to be part of a large school complex behind the shops and apartments, a religious community foundation no doubt at least once upon a time, but how old it's hard to tell. Neither church was open during siesta. The Cathedral can be visited 10.00 till 20.00 (€5.00) and a nearby church is open for perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Others open for morning and evening Masses for the most part. A really good church crawl would rely on being out and about early or late, rather than during the day. Maybe another time.
Another good city walkabout, then back on the bus to Rincon by five, to purchase some frozen fish to see me through the weekend and my last few evening meals before heading back home to Cardiff.